c-Fos Expression during Temporal Order Judgment in Mice
The neuronal mechanisms for ordering sensory signals in time still need to be clarified despite a long history of research. To address this issue, we recently developed a behavioral task of temporal order judgment in mice. In the present study, we examined the expression of c-Fos, a marker of neural activation, in mice just after they carried out the temporal order judgment task. The expression of c-Fos was examined in C57BL/6N mice (male, n = 5) that were trained to judge the order of two air-puff stimuli delivered bilaterally to the right and left whiskers with stimulation intervals of 50–750 ms. The mice were rewarded with a food pellet when they responded by orienting their head toward the first stimulus (n = 2) or toward the second stimulus (n = 3) after a visual “go” signal. c-Fos-stained cell densities of these mice (test group) were compared with those of two control groups in coronal brain sections prepared at bregma −2, −1, 0, +1, and +2 mm by applying statistical parametric mapping to the c-Fos immuno-stained sections. The expression of c-Fos was significantly higher in the test group than in the other groups in the bilateral barrel fields of the primary somatosensory cortex, the left secondary somatosensory cortex, the dorsal part of the right secondary auditory cortex. Laminar analyses in the primary somatosensory cortex revealed that c-Fos expression in the test group was most evident in layers II and III, where callosal fibers project. The results suggest that temporal order judgment involves processing bilateral somatosensory signals through the supragranular layers of the primary sensory cortex and in the multimodal sensory areas, including marginal zone between the primary somatosensory cortex and the secondary sensory cortex.
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